Movie Review: Dumbo; I smiled endlessly

by: Cathy Foreman


For the gen-x’r, Dumbo is one of those childhood favorites that never resurfaced on television and never had any subsequent releases via Disney vhs, cd, dvd or blu-ray. Now, to see it be made a live animation is pretty freaking awesome. I am curious to see how it does going forward. Meaning, how soon before it hits dvd? How long before it hits any of the streaming services? Will it receive its due or it will fade, once again, into obscurity?

By no means is Dumbo a great film, but it is a good film. It does give you the feels and it definitely will have you smiling from ear to ear. For me, it was nostalgic. I vaguely remember the first time I saw it, but I distinctly remember wanting to see it as a young adult and as a woman with a child, I wanted to watch and share all that was Disney with him. I remember longing for the time when Dumbo and a few others would be re-released, celebrating some anniversary or it coming out of the proverbial vault. I waited … and waited, but by the time it was released to DVD in 2001, my son was nine and too old to care. Back then, I didn’t fully understand the concept of “treasures” and “keepsakes”. So, I missed out on an opportunity to own it.

When the announcement for Dumbo came out, I was elated and when I found out Tim Burton was the man behind it, I was even more thrilled. I knew at the very least it would be muted but colorful and and I couldn’t wait to see his creative direction. Tim didn’t disappoint. It was colorful, but dark. The tone for the film and the heaviness of some of the moments accompanied bright beams of light and a musical score that seemingly opened the heavens and our hearts with bursts of excitement as we watched Dumbo soar from a playpen of sorts, to this tiny box car, to the big top and eventually to wide open sky over a herd of elephants somewhere in South Asia. As I sat and watched this closing scene, I found myself wondering, “did Dumbo ever grow into his ears?”

Danny DeVito is perfect as the ringmaster. His whole larger than life persona suits this role to tee. Conversely, I found it hard to believe Colin Farrell as a cowboy and southerner. Something about it just seemed off to me. But, then Burton gave us Michael Keaton as the shiesty salesman, what a great pairing. Keaton seems to completely embody his character. It was an easy buy in for me. And my fair Eva Green, who I simply adore, is always a pleasure to watch in whatever role she “puts” on. She’s eccentric enough to pull off period pieces, yet classic enough to fit any modern day role. She’s a chameleon, for sure. The buy in was equally compelling for her french trapeze act.

As I said, it’s not a great film, but it is a good film. If you need to smile or just simply feel good, you should purchase a ticket.